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People converse outside of the Board of Elections building, Athens, Ohio, Oct. 27, 2023.

New Tax Levy 7, fall renewal levy expand senior services

Correction Appended: A previous version of this article said Eva Bloom is the executive director of HAPCAP. The article is updated to say development director.

Athens County’s Tax Levy 7 was passed March 19 to provide more funding for senior nutritional programs. 

The new levy passed with over 58% of the vote, providing over $300,000 in additional funding toward senior citizens’ facilities and services annually for five years. The levy primarily supports services like the Meals on Wheels program, which offers meals to home-bound senior citizens. The program serves approximately 110 seniors each month, with a waiting list of 60 citizens. The levy will eliminate the waiting list once the taxes are collected in 2025.

Eva Bloom, development director of Hocking Athens Perry Community Action, or HAPCAP, said the program provides five meals to lower-income or homebound seniors every week. The driver, who delivers the meals, also checks in on the resident in that resident’s home. 

“What we find is that, obviously having enough food is really important to someone’s health, but so is that social connection,” Bloom said. “Isolation can actually be a pretty negative impact on someone’s health.” 

Bloom said for the general election in November, she hopes to have a renewal levy of the Senior Services levy, the current tax levy that supports seniors using the services Meals on Wheels provides, along with additional programs and senior facilities. She said funding under the current levy was not enough to sustain the program’s services, which is why Tax Levy 7 was created.  

Bloom said she requested the levy. When deciding how to obtain additional funding, Bloom thought of creating a replacement levy, which makes the total value of the initial levy larger. However, some parts of the original levy are paid through state funding, so if that levy was replaced, then the program would lose state dollars. In that instance, Athens County taxpayers would have to pay the difference toward the levy for the loss of state funding. 

Jill Davidson, Athens County auditor, advised Bloom and others involved in the levy to do a renewal levy instead of a replacement because the proposed levy qualified for state subsidy. The state subsidy would reimburse local governments for these taxes, allowing them to receive the same amount of funding, and provide tax relief to property owners. 

The state subsidy was removed in 2013; however, since the levy was a pre-2013 tax levy the state subsidy would apply. If it was a replacement levy or a new levy then the benefits of the state subsidy would not apply, Davidson said. 

“If we can keep that subsidy in place to save the taxpayer some money and still receive the same amount of money,” Davidson said. ”Why wouldn’t you want to do that?” 

After Davidson’s recommendation, Bloom decided it was most effective for everyone to create two levies. 

“Because the initial levy was passed when that statute was effective, if we replaced it we would then lose those state dollars and Athens County taxpayers would have to make up for that amount that the state had been paying on that levy,” Bloom said.

The final version appearing on the ballot called for an additional levy and HAPCAP took off the renewal levy for a later date. 

Davidson said the levy still has around $250,000 that is set to expire in 2024. She said she believed HAPCAP wanted to get a new levy while still keeping the best chance of the old levy. 

Bloom said although the levy would benefit nutritional programs, the ballot language was general on purpose, but that could have created confusion. 

“The facilities and services is in the ballot language and that is positive because it gives the commissioners the ability to use those funds the way that they’re most needed,” Bloom said. 

Executive Director at United Seniors of Athens County Inc. Joyce Lewis echoed the need for additional funding to take more people off of the waiting list for nutritional programs. 

“There’s always a need for home-delivered meals and for food or nutrition,” Lewis said. 

Since the levy passed, Lewis explained how the additional funding could serve more people in need. 

“If they know that there’s more funding available and that they might be able to get a home-delivered meal,” Lewis said. “Who knows how much the real need is out there.”

Davidson said any estimates for the potential November levy will come rolling in periodically before the August deadline for filing. 


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